Are you looking for ways to increase your productivity or perhaps a spark of inspiration to stop procrastinating? Furthermore, are you interested in techniques and tips that will make you more efficient and therefore get more work done? Whatever the case may be, you need a starting point, a mentor who will guide you in the right direction.
In this article I have gathered the most influential and game-changing books on productivity and efficiency. Authors like Seth Godin, Kenneth Blanchard, Tim Ferriss and many more. They are the experts, the consultants and teachers who have all the answers to make you more efficient in whatever you have chosen to do in your life.
These books are not ranked in order. My suggestion is to read the short reviews and then decide which one you want to tackle first. All in all, they are the creme of the productivity crop.
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Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
Getting Things Done is the modern bible of productivity books. It has been listed in most of the productivity book lists. In this book you will get specific techniques to increase your productivity. Furthermore, Allen teaches you to have more mental clarity and therefore get more work done.
"You can do anything, but not everything." David Allen
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, by Gary Keller
Keller takes Allen's approach one step further and suggests that we should focus on one task at a time. Book reviews point out that this method has been life-changing and brings extraordinary results by narrowing your focus. What is the ONE thing you need to do in order to achieve your dreams and goals?
“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.” Gary Keller
The One Minute Manager, By Kenneth Blanchard
This book is a narrative about a young man looking for the most effective management skills. It is especially useful for first-time managers and managers in general. It is written in a story format and offering solutions on leadership, feedback and goal-setting.
“Take a minute: look at your goals, look at your performance, see if your behavior matches your goals.” Kenneth Blanchard
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done, by Peter F. Drucker
Continuing with the theme of management, this book is a classic. First published in 1967, it has transformed countless regular managers into effective executives. The essence of this book is not only getting more things done, but getting the RIGHT things done. Therefore, Blanchard shows you lessons on time-management, personal strengths and the value of priorities.
“Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.” Peter F. Drucker
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less, by Richard Koch
Talking about doing the right things, the 80/20 principle will help you find the right things. The 80/20 method is the best prioritizing technique out there and in this book you will learn all the different ways to use it.
In case, you want to get 80% of the substance in 20% of the time I suggest you follow the instructions shared by one of the readers on goodreads. Read a short definition of the 80/20 rule on the web. Skip to chapter 9 and begin reading the book. Stop when you finish chapter 11. Read 13 and then skim the rest of the book.
"Those who ignore the 80/20 Principle are doomed to average returns. Those who use it must bear the burden of exceptional achievement." Richard Koch
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
According to Derek Sivers, this book is a great dissection and analysis of what creates habits, and the power of changing just one of three steps in the habit loop. Furthermore, this book will teach you how habits work and by knowing their functions, you will learn how to change your own habits. It is a must read for anyone who wants to change their own habit or want to learn the science behind habits in general.
"This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.” Charles Duhigg
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande
According to Heather Rees, after so many books offering complex and sophisticated organization and productivity systems, Gawande’s technique can feel like a cool drink of water. He offers the humble checklist.
The author goes on to cleverly demonstrate why the checklist is the superior tool for any productive, organized person using examples of pilots and doctors in life threatening situations to make his case. You’ll likely never look at a checklist the same again.
“Under conditions of complexity, not only are checklists a help, they are required for success.” Atul Gawande
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, by Brian Tracy
Kevin Daum recommends the book for people who like the simple approach. It is a no-nonsense list of 21 habits that will make you accomplish more in your life. It is a fast read and has tips that are very accessible. Great read for beginners in productivity.
“If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first.” Brian Tracy
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin
Seth Godin is notorious for writing so many great books and the Linchpin serves as a great kick in the butt if you are interested in getting more done. For someone who has a job at a company, Sivers would call this essential reading. Seth challenges us to become linchpin ourselves, to become artists who do emotional work.
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you're doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they're hiding out in the comfortable zone.” Seth Godin
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Timothy Ferriss
I left this book for last, because Tim Ferriss has probably read all of the books above and picked out the best parts. Especially the 80/20 Principle. Don't be turned off by the title, it is an extreme that is meant to catch your attention and then teach you ways to become ultra efficient and therefore work less. It is the best time-management book I have ever read with very actionable tips and lessons.
“By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It's the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.” Timothy Ferris